TMC 2023 Christmas in Tokyo

Christmas 2023 at TMC included a children’s event, potluck, and caroling in the part—in addition to worship services celebrating Advent and Christmas Day.


Ann's Mother's 95th Bday

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Ann’s mother celebrated her 95th birthday in December! That gave us a chance to have a small family gathering at our house in Maine, just down the street. We were able to take a few pics of Mom Maxwell with her four children—an unusual opportunity in the Maxwell (and Bamford, Little) clan!

Sep-Oct in Japan and Asia

Our first trip to Japan in 2023 was in Feb, the second in Jun, and the third from Sep 23 - Oct 21. For the first 10 days of our fall trip we visited Chiang Mai and Singapore as part of our Asia Regional Coordinator role with ServeBeyond. The rest of the time we focused on guiding Tokyo Multicultural Church through leadership transition, Dale meeting one-on-one with pastors and Ann with some of the ladies.

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The highlight was meeting David & Lina Cheng in-person for the first time. They had arrived with their two children via Hong Kong just a few weeks earlier in order to begin serving as TMC’s full-time Chinese ministries couple. We met with them for orientation to both Tokyo and TMC, as well as to ServeBeyond because they are seconded from SIM Singapore, their sending mission agency. For the next few months we will continue providing them with orientation over zoom a couple times a month. Then after that we will meet with them every 4-6 weeks as we do with most of our ServeBeyond global workers in Asia.

While in Tokyo Dale also preached, led a TMC Members’ Meeting, and finished teaching the last half of his Contemporary Theology modular class this year at Japan Bible Seminary. In addition, TMC held its first children’s blessing event (not to be confused with baby dedication).


Partner Visit - Singapore

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David & Lina, Tokyo Multicultural Church’s new Chinese Ministries full-time pastoral couple are being sent from their home country to Japan through the Singapore branch of the SIM mission agency. In early Oct, Dale & Ann visited the SIM offices in Singapore to meet the folks helping to develop the Memorandum of Understanding between SIM and ServeBeyond for the placement of David & Lina at TMC. In-person talking, laughing, eating, and praying is the best way to get an MOU off the ground!

Global Worker Visit - Chiang Mai, Thailand

In early Oct Dale & Ann visited ServeBeyond global workers in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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The recently launched Beautiful Feet Ministries supports the growth of a local church through teaching Bible in the church and sponsoring girls in a nearby student hostel. The gospel is shared while discipleship, outreach, and compassion ministries take place.

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In addition, a bilingual former “missionary kid,” now with ServeBeyond, teaches at a local school where she can be the aroma of Christ.

July in Maine

It was great enjoying some precious summer family time with our children and grandchildren at our house in Maine!


Resources for Teaching Kids

Ann set up a curriculum library at Tokyo Multicultural Church for continuing children’s ministry. Over the years she has collected a number of free resources. One such resource is the free “Bible App For Kids” for parents and teachers. It is available for mobile devices (App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore). Presently there are 41 interactive Bible stories available in 66 languages. Children can listen to the Bible story and follow along with the words. Touching the screen brings entertaining animation. In addition, each story comes with an activity to review the story. More information and printable flashcards and coloring pages can be found at this website: https://bibleappforkids.com/

June in Japan

Our first trip to Japan in 2023 was Feb 21 - Mar 9 (3 wks). It was supposed to be 4 weeks but we had to shorten it because we both came down with covid (light symptoms) a few days before our original departure from the US. More about that trip here.

Our second trip was May 30 - Jun 29 (4 wks). We travelled to Tokyo on weekends from our house in northern Japan where we stayed mid-week. So we were able to be in-person at Tokyo Multicultural Church every Sunday in June. Read More…

Making Salvation Accessible by Clothing the Gospel with Community

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

Some contemporary evangelical theologians in the English speaking world (e.g., Newbigin, Pinnock, Yong, Tiessen) have proposed the idea that salvation’s parameters are broader than traditionally portrayed by evangelicals. However salvation is better understood as accessible through the proclamation of the gospel, with the resultant birth of churches. Read More…

Church Planting as God’s Missional Re-Creation

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

It is possible there are fundamental incompatibilities between current Japanese culture and the Church of Jesus Christ birthed in Japan through the gospel. For example, vertically structured Japanese culture seems to exhibit a tendency toward leadership by control. So Japanese pastors naturally tend to lead through control, which makes the pastor central to ministry, rather than leading by empowerment, which emphasizes the significance of lay ministry sourced in spiritual gifting.

This culturally rooted controlling leadership style raises theological questions, not only about personal leadership style, but also about decision making in the local church. Congregationalism is leadership of the many. It might be emerging as the predominant decision making structure among evangelical churches in our postmodern world. It has strong Biblical support. By contrast, Japanese culture tends to push pastors toward leadership of the few or even leadership of the one. Read More…

New Pastoral Couple for TMC English Ministries

2022_11 Bob & Keiko 2
On Apr 23 Dale led a TMC Members’ Meeting by zoom from Maine, in which members voted to call Bob & Keiko as TMC's next part-time, bi-vocational English ministries associate pastoral couple. Bob is from Zambia and Keiko from Japan. Keiko had been a missionary in Zambia but they met in Japan while Bob was studying at Tokyo Christian University. They had been in the candidate process since Dec, meeting several times with the Pastoral Search Team and also with Dale & Ann. We are grateful Bob & Keiko accepted the invitation and look forward to onboarding them.

They will join Moto (Japanese ministries pastor) and Kevin (Chinese ministries associate pastor). Lord willing, David & Lina will soon join TMC via Singapore as Chinese ministries full-time pastoral couple. We are thankful for Jon & Laura’s continuing part-time ministry at TMC until their retirement in a few years.

One More Mary

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

Of all the Marys in the New Testament, Mary Magdalene is mentioned most often. Magdala was a place name, so she was actually the Mary from Magdala. One verse offers an insight as to the reason for her devotion to Jesus: Luke 8:2 “and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out.” Jesus had healed her from a tortuous life controlled by seven demons. I cannot imagine the horror of that kind of life, nor the incredible relief, freedom and joy at being healed. No wonder we see her faithfully following after Jesus. Read More…

TMC 10th Anniversary

On Easter Sunday Apr 9 TMC celebrated its 10th anniversary! We were back in Maine by then so sent a bilingual English-Japanese video greeting, recalling the early years of launching TMC in our Tokyo apartment complex.

Toward a Theology of Ecclesial Mission

Summary of paper Dale presented at the Church Planting Theology Conference in March 2023 at St. John’s College, Durham University Centre for Church Planting Theology and Research (UK).

Books and articles that deal with church planting are common, but seem short on theological considerations about church planting. In general, church planting literature seems to predominantly emphasize the pragmatics of church planting such as strategies, case studies, goal setting, demographic surveys, leadership styles, cultural insights, etc. Now, this is helpful and appreciated by church planters like myself. But it would also be beneficial to see more of a focus on theological aspects of church planting. Even publications on theology of mission seem to give little attention to church planting.

Despite this apparent lack of theological reflection about church planting in the literature, implementation of church planting seems to remain a priority for cross-cultural evangelical missionaries and mission agencies as well as for in-country evangelical denominations. Given this situation, an attempt to place church planting in theological context might be a timely reminder that church planting is ultimately rooted in a theological framework.

The purpose of this paper is to suggest a hypothetical book that attempts to present church planting from a theological perspective, drawing from the fields of biblical theology, systematic theology, and missiology. Read More…

Academic Paper - God’s Ecclesial Mission

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On Mar 21 Dale read a paper in England at Cranmer Hall’s Church Planting Theology Conference (Durham Univ.) titled “Thinking Theologically about Church Planting—God’s Ecclesial Mission and Ours.” Perhaps his paper will appear in a follow-up publication from the conference.

After the conference we enjoyed a week in Scotland, chasing down family roots and friends/relatives.

TMC Budget Reduced

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On Mar 5 Dale led a Members’ Meeting in-person at TMC in which it was decided to reduce the budget in order to become less dependent on subsidies and help achieve financial stability. Tokyo’s covid restrictions over the past few years have made it financially difficult for the church. TMC’s pastors who need financial support now receive a stipend instead of a salary.

TMC Baptism

On Feb 26 Dale baptized a young TMC lady from South Africa. For preparation Ann & Dale had zoomed with her 5 times. Her testimony of God’s faithfulness was so encouraging! It was also a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with our primary partner church on the west side of Tokyo where we held the baptism, Tokyo Musashino EFC or Musashino Chapel Center, and where we pastored 2008-2010.

TMC Sunday School Restarted

During the fall months of 2022, before moving out of our Tokyo apartment in Dec, Ann had been recruiting a TMC children’s ministry team. In Jan 2023 they were able to re-start a twice month TMC Sunday school. She continues to provide coaching and curriculum for the new team, including bringing Easter resources in our suitcases on our Feb 2023 trip to Tokyo.

Jesus Interrupts a Funeral

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little
(Originally written in Sep 2021, after the death of Juni)

In Luke 7:11-17 we read about a woman who at one time had both a husband and a son. In this story she had lost both and the scene we are introduced to is the funeral of her only son. All of this spells loneliness, no financial support, and the end of the family line. Read More…

Farewell to a TMC Pastoral Couple

Almost 2 years ago we brought aboard a young part-time, bi-vocational pastoral couple for TMC English ministries. But in Nov they resigned because they were too busy with their work and new baby, approaching burn-out. TMC’s leadership team warmly welcomed them to stay at TMC as members as they worked through their new lifestyle without the pastoral component. But in Jan they decided to move on. We wish them God’s best.

Our 2022 Ministry Budget Fully Met

Our financial support team fully met our 2022 Ministry Budget of CA$136,000, or about US$100,000 (CA$11,300/mo or about US$8,300/mo). Praise the Lord!

A big THANK YOU to our support team for such faithful giving!

Our 2023 Ministry Budget is reduced a bit to CA$131,000, or about US$96,000 (CA$10,900/mo or about US$8,000/mo). The reduction is due to a lower budget line item for housing because in December we moved out of our Tokyo apartment.

Motivational Energy for Church Planting

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little
(Originally written in 2004)

During one four year stretch of church planting in Japan I intentionally modeled a certain style of leadership. I thought the people in my church plant had settled nicely into the way my wife and I were “doing church.” So when our church plant called its first Japanese pastor, it was with no little surprise that we watched him easily and quickly implement a style of leadership which was diametrically opposed to ours. The people of the church seemed to take to the new leadership style like fish to water.

Even after picking ourselves up from the floor, shedding a few tears, placing some time and distance between us and the newly planted church, and gaining some perspective, we still felt like we had lost confidence in our ability to church plant in Japan. Read More…